Call Me Country with a Capital C

Here's my second daily journal recap. If you're reading this wondering, "Why in the world would anyone care to read about this much detailed nonsense?" just check out my explanation on my first daily journal post.

Skip, skim, or enjoy!

Day 3: Wednesday, January 8th

The rest of the Ohio State bunch arrived today! I was planning to meet them at the airport, but Enrique and the University of Missouri professor suggested I accompany the Mizzou group on their tours so I wouldn’t repeat the welcome-day activities. That sounded like a good plan to me.

Here’s a photo recap of my day at the Coplacana sugarcane coop, a John Deere dealership, and Morro Grande coffee factory:

Exploring Coplacana's massive agrochemical warehouse with Mizzou kids.

The Dryer. Everyone else seemed to know what this meant.

I was more interested in these crazy, dusty, spiderweb things!

Eucalyptus logs used to fuel the mysterious Dryer.

Oh, apparently it dries this corn.

The coop also deals with dairy. Bring on the milk!

Who needs a veterinarian in Brazil when all the medications are available at the feedstore?

Brazil is so soccer-crazy, even pool disinfectant is fútbol themed.

While everyone else examined the new model's suspension and traction, I shamelessly asked a girl to take my photo in a tractor! One girl remarked, "Congrats, you're now Country with a capital C." I think she was being sarcastic...

A sugarcane harvester which caught on fire. Look, it's huge!

Another sugarcane harvester in the shop for a paint job.

Sacks of coffee beans at the Café Morro Grande factory.

500-gram bags of coffee waiting to be vacuum sealed.

Shirota shows us the one spindly coffee plant on the factory's property. It was part of the swimming pool landscaping!
When we returned to our hotel, the receptionist told me to move my things from my ninth floor penthouse (not quite) to Room 806, where my AZP roommates were waiting for me. I ran up the stairs, loaded my backpack, and knocked on the door with the 806 plaque. Erin and Sejal greeted me with hugs and woops. “You made it!” they cheered, as if they hadn’t expected me to. It was our first reunion in eight months. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my friends!

I had only a moment to unpack before we set out for a repeat of yesterday’s walking tour of campus. This time our guide was Enrique. The tour was much quicker, and no beers were promised. We went to dinner at the same buffet restaurant as last night. It was fun to eat at a table with Ohio State kids instead of the next door Mizzou table. I was pleased that nobody got drunk at dinner – from our table, that is.

A few AZP students were scheming a night out, which astounded me since they were coming off a red-eye! I had an extra day to rest, and I still wanted to go straight to bed! I ended up staying in the hotel, but a fun evening conversation with Erin, Sejal, Jared, Holden and AJ kept me up until 1am. I felt like a fifth grader at summer camp.

Day 4: Thursday, January 9th

First day of classes! We got up at 6:45am for breakfast at the hotel and walked to campus. I heard Caixeta’s welcome speech again, then an introduction from Shirota.

We had lunch at a por kilo buffet restaurant with free juice. Score. Apparently the restaurant was a long walk away, but I didn’t notice because I was talking to a Japanese exchange student, Ayaka, the whole time. We used a mixture of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese to communicate. Ayaka arrived in August and will be staying until next August; her parents will visit in February. She’s studying agricultural economics and Portuguese. I told Ayaka she was so brave to commit to a whole year by herself in a foreign country, university, and language. She felt the same way about my year in Ecuador and Brazil. I guess it’s all about your own goals and expectations. Ayaka taught me a lot of new Portuguese words, and some Japanese too!

After lunch, we began our three-day course on Brazilian economic history. We began in the 1500s, and hopped to different historical events in no discernible order. I longed for a PowerPoint or handout to keep the dates straight. At one point, we learned three facts about Prince Henry the Navigator: he loved boats, he was gay, and he let his brother be killed. The significance was that Henry died without leaving an heir to the throne, and the King of Spain gained control of Portugal. Prince Henry came up again a few hours later, and then again at the end of class. Nothing was in chronological order! Yikes! The hardest part of class was staying awake in the warm, dark classroom since I’m still jetlagged. Tomorrow I’ll try taking notes on my computer and see if that helps me stay focused.

These were my doodles to help me stay awake in class. I tried to draw maps of South, Central, and North America by memory. Don't judge.

A red-legged seriema, a waving American flag, and a very, very important memo-to-self.
We spent the last hour-and-a-half on our first survival Portuguese class! We learned how to pronounce the alphabet and spell our names out loud. I’m going to try my best to master Portuguese in the next six weeks.

After class we were told, “Meet in the lobby at eight for a group dinner.” The sun was still high in the sky, so I assumed I would have four or five hours before dinner – yay, a free evening to blog and read and nap! Bafflingly, it was time for dinner before I’d even read my e-mails. Shoot, I forgot the sun doesn’t set at 4pm here in Brazil. It was still light when we got to dinner.

During class I had decided – and even written myself a reminder in block cursive letters – to sleep more so I wouldn’t be tired. What actually happened was that I had a wonderful conversation with John at dinner which we couldn’t break off until past midnight. We discussed everything from consciousness to evolution to our favorite childhood science shows. So much better than discussing drinking games!

Back in my hotel room, the early-to-bed dream didn’t come true either. When you’re rooming with two of your best friends who you haven’t seen in months, it’s hard to stop talking and get to bed. Maybe tomorrow night will be an early one…